“Laws are like sausages, it is better not to see them being made“-Otto von Bismarck
Reactions have trailed the proposal by the National Assembly led by one rascal and self-proclaimed Minority Leader of the House of Representative Honorable(assuming he ever was) Leo Ogor as he was quoted saying that the National Assembly is proposing to amend the 1999 Constitution to grant immunity to its Presiding Officers. Recall that Section 308 of the Constitution confers immunity on four categories of public officers: the President and Vice President and Governors and their Deputies.
This move, objective analysts have argued, was not borne out of altruism but of cheer greed. This proposal, to say the obvious, smacks legislative rascality and hooliganism. The fact that this is coming at the time when misplaced priorities is becoming the front burner in the 8th National Assembly should worry lovers of democracy. I doubt if they even have a priority list of such, visionless vandals. These are nothing but fathers without morals and values. The present security challenges don’t seem to bother these corrupt bigots, yet the first thing on their “To Do” lists is getting immunity against prosecution from corruption.
Those who recently got injured in the twin Abuja bomb blasts and those who lost their daily bread from the said imbroglio that is their hope of a better life as they endure the hardship just because they cannot steal like these notorious men. Our people will endure selling “pure water”, snacks, “guguru” on major high ways just to make a living a little above subsistence, yet these Buccaneers loot our resources dry. I listened with my head bowed to the irresponsible immunity clause proposal by these rascals to grant immunity to these yam eating goats. Need we say that the so-called immunity to these clowns is antithetical to anti-corruption war that has finished the conscience of a people? The poignant question is who gains? This is a mockery of our collective common sense.
Let us take a dispassionate look together on the contentious Section 308 of the constitution and let me say that Nigerians should start querying the man (or woman) who wrote that Constitution for us because I am sure it is “We the people…” as the Preamble will want to make us believe. For the purpose of emphasis, let us quote (in part) that section, “…this section applies to a person holding the office of the President or vice President, governor or deputy governor and the reference in this section to a period of office is a reference to the period during which the person holding such office is required to perform the functions of the office.” My simple interpretation of this section of the Constitution is that it(immunity) was made for those that achieved distinction in their profession and Civil Service that’s the basis of the immunity clause. It is only for decent minds who have achieved distinctions in their callings or professions. The framers of Constitution never, and would not have, envisaged that criminals and well-known money launders like Joshua Dariye (PDP, Plateau Central) will ever make their way into exalted positions like the hallowed chambers of the National Assembly. It is difficult to imagine criminals making laws in a responsible society. If we may ask: Who will criminals be makings laws for? I don’t need your obvious answers.
Let’s delve into the Clinton’s “Lewinsky scandal” a bit. Of course, Bill Clinton was covered under US immunity clause as President, but did he ever appear in the Congress during his trial by the Senate? The immunity clause some pirates are clamouring for is that which gives professional politicians the blank cheque to loot, steal, and literarily kill the its removal is what the National Assembly wants to give to themselves so as to continue their fight for greed. A National Assembly that couldn’t distinguish between personal and national issues. There is a Yoruba saying that omo ti a o bako ni a gbe ile ti ako ta meaning “A child that we refuse to train properly will be the one to sell the house”. This is the sorry case of our so-called elected leaders today.
Politics without values is practiced in Nigeria today. When you lack character, you lack values. They will do everything, including deploying the law to save their common interests- greed and other baseless desires. Corruption is fighting the usual cause in the case of the controversial Senate President Bukola Saraki. An egalitarian society is built on the principles of equity, justice and democracy. These do not just come for cheap; they are earned through conscious resistance of anti-people policies or laws of illegality. Most of the laws they claim to make are just used for fighting one another when one of the same faction threatens the interest of the other. Please, where is the mass of the people in this equation? Let us start getting signatures to recall them as contained in sections 69 and 110 of the Constitution to where they truly belong. A nation is not built through body language but through the actions and inactions of “We the people… ” Some fragments of our Constitution gave too much powers to the President which even the American President does not have. Nigerian constitution made our President alone the most powerful officer in the world.
Presidents have been impeached by the House of Representatives— Andrew Johnson in 1868 and Bill Clinton in 1998—both later acquitted at trials held by the US Senate. While articles of impeachment against Richard Nixon were passed by the House Judiciary Committee in 1974. Nixon resigned the Presidency before the impeachment resolutions could be considered by the full House.
We need to take a good look at our laws and mould all our interests into one. We need a constitution made by the people not by the military or amended by the criminals. Nigerians arise or we be condemned as the most docile people in the generation to come. We must stop the generation of Esau from further economic and democratic sabotage of our collective and shared prosperity.
Kolade Gbolagade is a social commentator and public affairs analyst based in Lagos. He sent this through firstname.lastname@example.org